Abuse victims: Protestant church must relinquish power

Abuse victims: Protestant church must relinquish power A man leaves an empty church in Bonn, Germany, June 12, 2020. Photo: CNS photo/Harald Oppitz, KNA

Hanover (KNA) Following the presentation of the first nationwide study on abuse in the Protestant Church, those affected are urging for swift consequences. “Much remains to be done,” said Detlev Zander, spokesperson for the organisation representing those affected, according to a statement issued by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) on Tuesday.

“Only if the regional churches and the diaconal regional associations now commit sufficient money and personnel and finally commit to uniform standards can the church and diaconal organisations meet the needs of affected people. This also means that regional churches and diaconal regional associations relinquish power.” Zander made his comments after a two-day meeting of the EKD Participation Forum, in which those affected and representatives of the church and diaconal organisations are represented.

The study for the EKD and Diakonie was presented by independent researchers at the end of January. It found evidence of 2,225 victims and 1,259 accused persons in church files for the years 1946 to 2020, although the researchers assume that the number of unreported cases is much higher. They also gave the church and diaconal organisations a poor report card when dealing with cases of abuse.

According to the EKD, the participation forum dealt with the 46 recommendations of the study. A timetable has been drawn up for the development of suitable measures, which will be presented to the EKD Synod for a vote in November. The next step would be joint consultations between the governing bodies and representatives of the participation forum in March. Further meetings of the Participation Forum will follow in April and May. Nancy Janz, co-spokesperson for those affected, warned: “Those affected must be able to see an improvement in their situation now and not in five years’ time.”